Marysville School District awarded $1.3 million grant

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District has received a $1.3 million grant that will help it boost the academic performance of some students who are most in need of the help.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant will fund after-school and summer programs for about 50 students each at Quil Ceda Tulalip and Liberty elementary schools for the next five years.

Kyle Kinoshita, the district’s executive director of learning and teaching, said the programs provide support for basic core subjects such as literacy and math as well as enrichment programs and experiential learning.

Those are the “kinds of projects that have a lot of learning woven into them, but the kids don’t know they’re learning as a part of it,” he said.

Both elementary schools were eligible for the grant because they have high numbers of students who qualified for free or reduced lunches: 76 percent for Quil Ceda Tulalip and 81 percent for Liberty Elementary.

Both schools have about 500 students.

But the determining factor as to which students will qualify for the new program is based solely on academic performance, with students not meeting math and reading standards given top priority.

“Given the fact that the population has pretty high levels of need, it’s likely that any kid that gets selected will come from a family that qualifies for free or reduced (price) lunch,” Kinoshita said.

The funding for the grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education but is administered by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Washington Alliance for Better Schools, a coalition of 12 regional school districts including Marysville, drew up the application, and the district solidified a partnership with the Marysville Public Library, YMCA Snohomish County’s Marysville branch, the Pacific Education Institute, the University of Washington Institute for Science and Mathematics Education and the Geo-Literacy Alliance of Washington State to help supplement the programming.

Science and math programming, for example, would be developed jointly with the Pacific Education Institute and the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, which is part of the UW’s College of Education, while the library would be an active partner in literacy programming, Kinoshita said.

The funding comes at a time when many school districts are facing restrictions on their budgets from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, including the Marysville district.

Under the act, a school is deemed “failing” if even one student doesn’t meet math and literacy standards. Most schools in Washington state are in that category, including all but one in the Marysville district, Kinoshita said.

Title 1 schools, those in which at least 40 percent of the student body are low-income, face additional sanctions, with federal money reserved for intervention services such as after-school programs being instead reallocated to parents to pay for private tutoring.

Marysville School District’s Title 1 budget, which includes Quil Ceda Tulalip and Liberty, is $300,000. Cascade, Shoultes and Marshall elementaries also are Title 1 schools.

“It’s still there in our budget, but we can’t use it to provide kids with services,” Kinoshita said. “It’s there for parents to use for tutoring.”

The 21st Century Learning Community Grant will cushion that blow somewhat.

“It’s definitely a gift in a way that we can further support our students,” said district spokeswoman Jodi Runyon.

The district will be able to hire several staff members to run the program, and some teachers in the district may also be able to take part in the new programs, an opportunity that primary school teachers don’t often have, Kinoshita said.

The new programs are expected to start up in October.

Chris Winters: 425- 374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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